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Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing in Dentistry

Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing in Dentistry

3D printers have become increasingly prominent in the dental industry, and for good reason: they are proving to be an invaluable tool in the creation of dental appliances and models. Continue reading for an ultimate guide to 3D printing in dentistry with insights from the experts at Safco Dental Supply.


A Brief History of 3D Printing in Dentistry

3D printers were first introduced in the 1990s as a new method of creating dental implants. As technology advanced, the applications for three-dimensional printing in dental treatments exploded. Read on to learn how dental 3D printers are used today.


How is 3D Printing Used in Dentistry?

Below are some of the most common applications for 3D printing in dentistry.


Creation of Dental Crowns and Bridges 

For many practices, dental crowns and bridges make up a large portion of monthly production. 

Traditionally, impressions would have to be sent out to an external dental laboratory in order to ensure the fabrication of the crown or bridge. In turn, patients would have to wear a temporary crown or bridge for 1-2 weeks until their permanent prosthesis arrived back in the office.

With the use of a 3D printer, the use of an external lab is completely eliminated. A fully-functional and accurate prosthetic can be printed in your practice in a matter of minutes.

Production of Denture Frames and Dental Implants

3D printed denture frames and dental implants can be immediately and accurately produced on-demand in your practice. Perhaps what is most notable is that the prosthesis that is printed can be completely customized and individualized specifically for your patient. 

Orthodontic Applications of 3D Printing

3D printing has various useful applications in orthodontics, such as the creation of orthodontic models, retainers, bonding trays, and splints. The use of a 3D printer helps optimize production workflow and create precise and individualized finished products.

3D Printing for Dental Surgery Preparations

Dental implant surgery requires extensive measuring and planning to ensure an accurate and successful outcome. You can use your 3D printer to create precise anatomical models that can be used as intelligent and tangible surgical guides to be used in conjunction with digital models and scans.


How Does 3D Printing Actually Work?

While the process of three-dimensional printing may at first seem complicated, it is actually quite simple – and extremely impressive.

The process starts with a comprehensive digital intraoral scan. This scan creates a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) file that can be used to create a 3-dimensional model of the patient’s anatomy. This model is used to create a personalized dental model, appliance, or prosthesis, which is then uploaded to the 3D printer and printed.

So, how does a 3D printer actually work? To put it simply, most 3D printers expose liquid resin to a precise light source, which forms very thin layers of resin. These layers fuse together and build up to create the object that was designed and sent to print.


Explore the Safco Dental Selection of 3D Printers for Dentistry


Advantages of 3D Printing in Dentistry

Some of the most notable benefits of 3D printing in dentistry include:

  • Improved efficiency and accuracy
  • Cost-effective production
  • Customization and patient comfort

Improved Efficiency and Accuracy

With the combined use of an intraoral scanner and 3D printer, the entirety of the planning and creation of dental prosthetics can be done quickly and efficiently in your practice – completely eliminating the need for hiring external labs and streamlining the process as a whole.

Additionally, since your prosthetics will be planned around the intelligent intraoral scans that are taken inside your patient’s mouth, you can rely on incredible accuracy in your finished products.

Cost Effective Production

While the initial cost of purchasing a 3D printer may be a bit high, you will find that operations are much more cost-effective in the long run.

Rather than paying an external dental laboratory to complete your dental prosthetics, you can simply invest in the cost of materials and print the items you need quickly and efficiently within your own practice.

Customization and Patient Comfort

Since you have the ability to view and edit CAD files before printing, you consequently have the ability to completely customize your patient’s finished product.

Another invaluable benefit of this modern method is dramatically increased comfort for patients. Traditionally, the only way to create detailed models of the mouth was to take impressions, which could be messy, time-consuming, and uncomfortable. An intraoral scanner can take detailed scans of the mouth in just minutes without the need for traditional impressions.


Are There Any Disadvantages or Challenges in 3D Printing? 

While 3D printers have proven to be exceptionally beneficial in dentistry, there are a few challenges that providers face:

  • Initial purchase cost for equipment and supplies
  • Developing a new working system that incorporates the use of the 3D printer
  • Finding an area within the practice that can be designated for the printer itself
  • Training staff members to fully understand how to use and maintain the equipment


Future of 3D Printing in Dentistry

Looking ahead, it is quite easy to see that 3D printing holds a solid spot in the future of dentistry. In fact, it’s currently estimated that the market for 3D printed dental appliances will reach $930 million by the end of 2025.

3D printing produces less waste, streamlines fabrication processes, provides a quick turnaround, and enables optimal customization. As the dental industry turns to digital applications everywhere else, it only makes sense that this aspect should be dramatically improved by digital applications, as well.

Looking to learn more about technological advancements in the dental industry? Check out this article we put together about how technology is shaping the future of dentistry.


Conclusion: The Potential of 3D Printing in Dentistry 

It’s clear to see why 3D printers have become an integral aspect of modern dentistry. With the information you have learned here, you are well on your way to streamlining appliance and prosthetics production with the use of 3D printing.

For high-quality dental products, place your trust in Safco Dental Supply and learn more about dental printing and all things dentistry. We provide a wide range of products to fit every need, with free shipping on orders over $250. 

We strive to get you your products as fast as possible. All orders placed before 4:30 pm CST (3:30 pm on Friday) are shipped out same-day.


Give us a call at 800.621.2178 to speak with one of our experts about different types of dental 3D printers.

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